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COVID-19 Information for Washington

The purpose of this page is to provide apartment industry professionals with an overview of the issues affecting our industry with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. The page is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute, and should not be construed as, legal advice. This resource is not intended to provide a mandatory standard of care for the industry.

State and Local Affiliates

Please remember to use your state or local apartment association as the primary resource for the most up-to-date information on your responsibilities. Find your local affiliate.

State Legal and Regulatory Information

We highly suggest you contact a local attorney before you decide to initiate an eviction action against a resident in the current environment as overlaying federal, state and county laws or restrictions on the judicial process may apply. This includes: issuing a notice to vacate, initiating any eviction-related action, or assessing fees or penalties on residents for nonpayment of rent or other lease violations. In addition to the below, you can access NAA's statutory information on late fees, eviction laws and other policy issues.

Shelter in Place

Governor Jay Inslee signed an order extending the original “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order until Sunday, May 31, 2020. He also released the state’s “Safe Start” plan, which is a phased approach to re-opening Washington’s economy.

On Wednesday, May 20, 2020, Governor Inslee released Phase 2 guidance for real estate and fitness operations and announced new criteria for additional counties to apply for variances to move to Phase 2 of the Safe Start recovery plan.

The Stay Home, Stay Healthy order expired at 11:59 pm on Sunday, May 31, 2020. Governor Inslee announced the state will transition to the Safe Start — Washington’s Phased Reopening. Effective Monday, June 1, 2020 counties may send an application to the secretary of Washington State Department of Health to advance to the next phase. 

State of Emergency 

Governor Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on February 29, 2020.

Eviction

Executive Order 20-19.1

  • Action: Gov. Jay Inslee announced, on March 18, 2020, a 30-day statewide moratorium on evictions for residential tenants. On April 16, 2020, Gov. Inslee updated the state's eviction moratorium through Executive Order 20-19.1, effective through June 4, 2020. 
  • Restrictions: The order prohibits the following:
    • Serving, enforcing, or threatening to serve or enforce any notice to vacate, including “eviction notices, notices to pay or vacate, notices of unlawful detainer, notice of termination of tenancy, or notice to comply or vacate.” Also applies to tenancies that have expired or will expire during the state of emergency.
      • This prohibition applies unless the housing provider attaches an affidavit attesting that the action is necessary to respond to a significant and immediate risk to the health or safety of others created by a resident.  
    • Seeking or enforcing, or threatening to seek or enforce judicial eviction orders or agreements to vacate unless the housing provider attaches an affidavit attesting that the action is necessary to respond to a significant and immediate risk to the health or safety of others created by a resident.  
    • Suing for unpaid rent or other charges where such nonpayment was the result of COVID-19. This only applies if a resident accepts and complies with a payment plan that is reasonable based on the individual financial, health, and other circumstances of that resident.

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

No statewide emergency rental assistance for Washington.

Rent Freeze

Executive Order 20-19.1

On April 16, 2020, Governor Inslee expanded the states eviction moratorium to prohibit housing providers from increasing rents or deposits. It also forbids treating unpaid rent as an enforceable debt, unless the landlord demonstrates by a preponderance of the evidence to a court that the resident was offered, and refused or failed to comply with, a reasonable repayment plan based on the individual financial, health, and other circumstances of that resident.

Price-Gouging Law

Washington does not have statutory language regulating price gouging during declarations of emergency.

Local Legal and Regulatory Information

Auburn

Eviction 

An Emergency Order went into effect on March 18, 2020 and is set to expire in 30 days.

  • Action: The order prohibits accrual of late fees.
  • Additional Commentary: Unclear whether this has been extended.

Bremerton

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

The City of Bremerton and the Bremerton Housing Authority has established the COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program.

Applicants who can demonstrate a loss on income due to COVID-19 and make between 30% and 80% of the area median income may receive up to 70% of their rent for up to three months.

Burien 

Eviction 

An Emergency Order implementing an eviction moratorium went into effect on March 16, 2020 and is set to expire in 30 days.

  • Action: The order prohibits evictions based on nonpayment of rent and accrual of late fees. It is unclear whether this has been extended.
  • Additional Commentary: It is unclear whether this has been extended.

Everett

Eviction 

An Emergency Order went into effect on March 17, 2020 and is set to expire in 30 days.

  • Action: The order prohibits housing providers from serving a 14-day notice; prohibits charging late fees or other charges due to nonpayment of rent; defense to any pending eviction that the eviction is occurring during the moratorium; and an extension determined by the Mayor based on public health necessity.
  • Additional Commentary: It is unclear whether this has been extended.

Kenmore

Eviction

An Emergency Order (pgs. 47-54), implementing an eviction moratorium, went into effect on March 16, 2020 and is set to expire on April 24, 2020.

  • Action: The order covers all evictions of residential dwelling units. Additionally, the order states that housing providers shall not issue a notice of termination or initiate an eviction action or otherwise evict a tenant.
  • Exceptions: The order contains an exception. It does not apply to evictions relating to the protection of life and safety, including, but not limited to, circumstances where a tenant threatens another tenant or other person(s) with a firearm or other deadly weapon, or some other unlawful use of a firearm or other deadly weapon on the rental premises, or for physically assaulting or placing another person in immediate physical danger on the rental premises.
  • Late Fees: The order also prohibits late fees or other charges due to late payment shall accrue
  • Additional Commentary: The City Manager shall have authority, in his discretion, to extend the temporary moratorium for additional time periods based on public health necessity. It is unclear whether this order has been extended.

King County

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

United Way of King County, the City of Seattle, and King County announced a partnership to expand the United Way’s Home Base program to help provide rental assistance to King County households.

An initial investment of $5 million in public and private funds will go to qualifying residents who lost all or part of their income due to the pandemic. The funds, which will go into the United Way’s Community Relief Fund, are estimated to help around 2,000 families stay in their homes.

The money is intended to help provide April rent that has not yet been paid. King County residents can apply if they are behind on rent, are economically impacted by COVID-19, and have a monthly household income below 50% of the area median income.

Residents in need of rental assistance can complete an online application or call 211. Translation services will also be available by calling 211.

Seattle

Eviction 

Mayor Jenny Durkan has signed an emergency order temporarily halting residential evictions for non-payment of rent effective March 17, 2020. 

  • Action: The moratorium will last for 60 days. The decision to extend it will be evaluated and determined by the Mayor based on public health necessity. 
  • Scope: No housing provider may issue notices of termination or initiate eviction action for nonpayment of rent or act on a termination notice for non-payment of rent during this moratorium. The order applies Initiating an unlawful detainer proceeding, Issuing a notice, or otherwise acting on any termination notice.
  • Late Fees: The order also prevents late fees or other charges due to late payment of rent.
  • Exceptions – Actions by the tenant constituting an imminent threat to the health and safety of neighbors, the landlord, or the tenant’s or landlord’s household members.
  • Additional Commentary: The order also creates defense to eviction, if the eviction will occur during the moratorium, unless actions by the tenant constitute an imminent threat to the health and safety of neighbors, the landlord, or the tenant’s or landlord’s household members. 

Tacoma

Rental Assistance/Housing Provider Assistance

The City of Tacoma is working to help people impacted by COVID-19 pay their rent. People who live within the City of Tacoma, who make 50% or less of the median household income in Pierce County, and who have been economically impacted by COVID-19 can apply for the funding.

People are eligible to received upward of $1000 which will go toward paying rent. The money will go directly to landlords. The deadline to apply is May 6, 2020.